8 Key Skills to Develop
If You Want to Work in Hospitality

See also: Customer Service Skills

Hospitality is the art of making guests feel welcomed, recognized, and cared for. It includes satisfying guest needs and ensuring they have an enjoyable stay. Hospitality professionals are always learning new skills to help them better serve their guests. For example, you should know how to interact with different people, be a good listener, and solve problems creatively.

There are also other essential skills that can make or break your hospitality career. In this article we explore the eight key skills that will set you apart from other candidates in the hospitality field.

Lobby of a 5 star hotel with member of staff helping guests.

1. Consider Learning Online Marketing Skills, e.g. SEO

Being able to charm and persuade people is important in the hospitality industry. I don’t mean “persuade” people as in selling them something they don’t need, but for example, if a guest isn’t enjoying their stay, you could persuade them to try out local activities or avail hotel perks that would help them have a much more enjoyable time.

In the kitchen and in the front office, you'll have to be calm and professional, but make sure you're able to show the benefits of upgrade packages, for example. A little bit of marketing skill in the hospitality industry can actually go a long way.

You have to remember that you're representing a brand, even if you aren't technically selling anything. Presentation is a large part of marketing, so you have to be able to represent your hotel well and speak well about it.

With some valuable marketing skills under your belt, you also open up a lot of lateral or vertical career moves in the hospitality industry. You might start out as a guest greeter, but once you learn everything about the hotel, you might decide to apply for a marketing position, bring customers to the hotel, and earn more money from commission.

2. Positive attitude

Whether you're cleaning the bathroom or ringing the bell at the front desk, positive attitude is the most important characteristic of a hotel manager. It helps you manage conflicts and other problems, and make sure every guest has an enjoyable experience. Always aim to serve with humility and appreciation, always be the best you can be, and never lose hope.

3. Service-orientation

Because of the complex nature of the hospitality industry, you have to constantly learn new things. Think critically and be aware of details, such as the preferences and needs of guests, but don't get obsessed about them. Instead, you need to approach them positively, listen to them, and address their concerns with empathy.

Let's say you start out as a housekeeper, and it might be a boring, tedious job. But what makes or breaks your ability to climb up the ladder will be your ability to change your attitude. If you keep complaining about the work and the job, you're simply missing out on the most important parts of your career - ensuring that people have a great stay at your hotel and recommend it to other people.

So ultimately, the hospitality industry really does require people who take a certain pride in their work. If you look at butlers, a lot of them don't see themselves as "servants" - they actually enjoy their jobs and take pride in their appearance, their knowledge, and their professionalism. So don't just clean your hotel. Look at everything from a guest's point of view, and you'll see that you are a hospitality professional.

4. Flexibility

One of the key factors in hospitality management is flexibility. You must be prepared to take charge of the hotel on short notice and coordinate with different parties to ensure the success of the hotel's operation. You should be able to fit multiple demands, such as running social events, having guests stay longer, and making additional promotions to ensure a better profit for the hotel.

5. An eye for detail

In the hospitality business, details make or break the customer experience. So it's important to know how to spot problems in your hotel, to know what services are being offered and how to make them better.

You should be able to look through the business documents in your hotel's office to understand the logistical details and how they impact the business. You should also know how to calculate potential financial risks and what are the weaknesses of a hotel.

6. An understanding of different cultures.

Just like other industries, hospitality is a multi-cultural field. So, you have to be sensitive to different cultures and understand little cultural customs they may have, or what they could misunderstand from your actions. To do this, you have to have an open mind and be able to think outside the box.

7. Collaborative leadership

You have to be willing to take initiative and make decisions that will benefit the hotel. You should be able to take the lead and be open to working with other team members and form partnerships with them to achieve success. This can help you save time, money, and gain respect from the rest of the team.

For example, a cleaning person might have to coordinate with the front desk to provide an extra service or order supplies. And the chef might need to cooperate with the housekeeper to help them manage their inventory. Having a team with different skills and competencies makes a company stronger and more efficient.

8. A willingness to step up to the plate

If you're career-focused and want to work with people, hospitality can be an excellent field for you. You can work as an assistant manager or a head of sales for a hotel, which will help you increase your knowledge of the industry and develop your interpersonal skills.

Whether you're just starting out, have a few years’ experience, or a decade under your belt, the best hospitality managers will always have a positive attitude and a willingness to take responsibility for outcomes both good and bad.

The Skills You Need Guide to Personal Development

Further Reading from Skills You Need

The Skills You Need Guide to Personal Development

Learn how to set yourself effective personal goals and find the motivation you need to achieve them. This is the essence of personal development, a set of skills designed to help you reach your full potential, at work, in study and in your personal life.

The second edition of or bestselling eBook is ideal for anyone who wants to improve their skills and learning potential, and it is full of easy-to-follow, practical information.

About the Author

Cristina Par is a content specialist with a passion for writing articles that bridge the gap between brands and their audiences. She believes that high-quality content plus the right link building strategies can turn the tables for businesses small and large.